Lutherans are the biggest consumers of alcohol among Protestant Christians, poll finds

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Among Protestant Christians in the United States, Lutherans are most likely to say that they consume alcohol while Pentecostals are least likely, a recently released LifeWay Research poll has found.

The poll, which was conducted in August 2017 but released Tuesday, found that over 75 percent of Lutherans surveyed answered “yes” when asked if they drink alcohol. Meanwhile, 62 percent of Methodist respondents responded with the same answer.

By comparison, just 43 percent of nondenominational Christians, 33 percent of Baptists and 23 percent of Assemblies of God/Pentecostal Christians said that they consume alcohol.

The survey is based on a sample of 1,010 American churchgoers and has a margin of error of 3.1 percent.

In total, 59 percent of Protestant Americans say they do not drink alcohol, while 41 percent said they do. There is not much statistical change from a 2007 LifeWay survey of Protestant laity that found that 39 percent of Protestant churchgoers said they drink alcohol.

“Churchgoers’ perspectives on alcohol are not changing very fast,” LifeWay Research Executive Director Scott McConnell said in a statement. “The majority believe that biblically they can drink, but they choose not to.”

The 2017 poll also found that 23 percent of respondents somewhat or strongly agreed that Scripture “indicates that people should never drink alcohol.” Seventy-two percent of Protestant churchgoers somewhat or strongly disagreed with that statement. In 2007, 29 percent of respondents agreed with that statement.

Fifty-five percent of respondents in 2017 said that Scripture “indicates all beverages, including alcohol, can be consumed without sin.” In 2007, 60 percent said the same.

Fifty-four percent of respondents agreed that drinking reasonable amounts is an “act of biblical liberty,” while 30 percent disagreed and 16 percent were unsure. Sixty-eight percent of Lutherans, 66 percent of nondenominational, 49 percent of Baptists and 44 percent of Assemblies of God/Pentecostals agreed with that statement.

Sixty percent of respondents in the 2017 survey agreed that “when a Christian partakes of alcohol in a social setting, they could cause other believers to stumble or be confused.” Among those with evangelical beliefs, 74 percent agreed. Less than half (44 percent) of those with nonevangelical beliefs said the same.

“While alcohol consumption continues to be seen as mainstream in the United States, churchgoers’ attitudes about drinking haven’t changed much in the past decade,” McConnell added.

Although most Protestant Christians feel that consuming alcohol is not a sin, 87 percent of respondents said they agree with the statement: “Scripture indicates that people should never get drunk.” Only eight percent disagreed with that statement.

Hispanics (96 percent) were most likely to agree that Scripture indicates that people should never get drunk. Those attending church services at least once per week are more likely (88 percent to 78 percent) than those attending once or twice per month to agree that Scripture warns against getting drunk, according to the 2017 survey. Additionally, those with evangelical beliefs were more likely (94 percent to 78 percent) to agree that Scripture warns against getting drunk.

While 89 percent of Baptists, 95 percent of nondenominational Protestants and 93 percent of Assemblies of God/Pentecostals agreed that Scripture warns against drunkenness, Lutherans and Methodists were least likely to agree — 76 percent of Lutherans and 69 percent of Methodists agreed with that statement.

Follow Samuel Smith on Twitter: @IamSamSmithFollow Samuel Smith on Facebook: SamuelSmithCP

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